A rebuttal to Ascendigo CEO’s guest commentary

In response to “The Promise of Ascendigo Ranch” (guest commentary by Peter Bell, May 26, The Aspen Times):

The residents of Missouri Heights, all 600 now, who have signed a petition against this commercial development in a rural residential neighborhood are tired of Ascendigo’s promises, their misinformation, their blatant misrepresentation of the facts.

The local community should also be tired and appalled of their continued use of autism as a weapon to blind people from seeing the truth. We have always made it known that we believe that Ascendigo is a great program, but this is the wrong location. This has nothing to do with autism. We care that this scope of commercial operation is not compatible with rural Missouri Heights.

These are just some of the errors in Bell’s guest commentary:

• No. 1 – “it was destined to become a subdivision of more than 20 luxury homes.” Not true. The land was undeveloped for 15-plus years; it may have taken another 15-plus years to fully develop. Responsible, residential growth. Garfield County has approved only 15 homes for that area. There were no plans to develop it before Ascendigo.

• No. 2 – “we applied to convert the land use from a residential development to an educational facility.” They are not an educational use facility as defined by Garfield County’s own land use and development code 15-102. They are a commercial summer camp, not a school. They are using this as a work-around, as admitted to by their own board of directors.

• No. 3 Ascendigo references “extensive water, traffic, wildlife, engineering and land-use studies.” Most of these studies have such significant flaws and miscalculations that GarCo had to file an extension to reconcile the errors. The traffic study was so deficient that GarCo road and bridge said it was unable to give a proper referral.

Many attempts were made over the past year to help Ascendigo locate other, more appropriate, locations for their camp. Why is Ascendigo continuing to ram this through in the face of such a vehement public backlash? There is nothing “inclusive” about what Ascendigo is doing to the rural community of Missouri Heights.

Kirk Hartley